Internet Hypochondria

I have this ^^^^.

Last night I became delerious with worry about my latest disease. My husband was suspicious because I kept making excuses to come upstairs and he found me checking on the computer every time.  I think he thought I was e-mailing a secret lover for a rendezvous or something.  In truth, I was just indulging my anxiety about botulism. A few weeks ago a friend casually mentioned that she was always afraid of jarred tomatoes growing up because they could be contaminated with botulism. I tried to dismiss this but like a botulism spore, the idea spread in my sleep deprived brain. Last night as I was making cabbage rolls one of my tomato jars was a little hard to open and while I am confident it was sealed properly, I started to unravel. Before I knew it I was googling like a crazy person about food borne illness in home canned food. And guess what! My fears are perfectly valid. Most of the cases of botulism come from home canning. One page specifically said that dipping your finger into a jar to taste was enough to kill you… which is exactly what I did. I was sure that my face was numb before I even finished the sentence.  

It makes me wonder about the internet. There are plenty of pages dedicated to combatting botulism in canned tomatoes.  Statistically, I am much more likely to die in a car accident, or from cancer or heart disease (maybe a combination of all three… this scenario features heavily in my night time freak outs), yet here I am, on google finding validation in my fears about botulism. And here are the facts; something like 180 cases of botulism are reported in the US every year, only 18 or so in Canada. While it’s true that some of these are from home canned food, very few (one site reported that tomatoes were responsible for only 1 case of botulism in 116 outbreaks reported) are related to acidic foods.

The fear of preparing food at home is especially rampant among the baby set. There is one site (which I won’t name because it’s an otherwise excellent site) which has a whole page dedicated to scaring the shit out of you about blue baby syndrome;  poisoning your infant with nitrogen. It goes on to say that THERE IS NO ACTUAL RISK THAT THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOUR BABY. Babies develop the gut flora to kill nitrogen producing bacteria before they can even eat solid food. So why? WHY even say it? Information for the sake of information is dangerous to someone like me. I am still terrified to feed my kids half the things on the list of nitrogen rich foods and they’re 18 months old. And they eat shit off the floor. One of them licked a shopping cart the other day. Whatever the hell was on that shopping cart has to be way scarier than some miniscule threat from blue baby syndrome.  

I am a huge advocate for growing and preparing your own food. So why does the internet have to make it so goddamn scary? Do we really trust science and industry to make a safe food supply? Because it doesn’t seem like they’re doing a very good job of that. When properly prepared, my pesticide free, lycopene rich tomatoes are probably as safe as anything on the market. Even more so… have you seen food headlines recently? We have to be terrified of our mass produced meat and eggs. Vegetables aren’t even safe… a friend of mine got salmonella from eating frigging CARROTS. Like, c’mon. And you better believe that I practice good kitchen hygiene and follow canning recipes to the letter.

So, I am pretty convinced I don’t have botulism. But I’ll keep you posted. If you don’t hear from me in the next couple of weeks, you know why. I have to go now and rescue my twin lemmings from jumping off the couch again. Head injuries are a real concern.


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